Times of India, October 1, 2010
Israeli arms give CRPF the edge in Jangalmahal
KOLKATA: The Army’s special forces were the first to receive them. It was then the turn of security personnel in J&K. Finally, CRPF personnel [Central Reserve Police Force paramilitary force] operating in Maoist-infested Lalgarh have got access to sophisticated weapons imported from Israel.
Senior officials believe that the 5.56mm Tavor guns, manufactured by Israel Weapon Industries Ltd (IWI), will give their men that much-needed edge over the guerrillas who use the terrain to their advantage. The INSAS, AK-47 or 7.62 mm SLR used by the CRPF till now have not proved to be too effective in close quarter battles (CQB). Indian ordnance factories have been trying to come up with an effective solution, but their latest products have not yet cleared field trials by the armed forces.
In 2009, Union home minister P Chidambaram cleared the procurement of 10,147 assault rifles from IWI in a `144-crore deal. The defence ministry had also imported similar weapons for use by its special forces.
“The INSAS is a good weapon for an infantry soldier. However, it is too cumbersome for personnel involved in counter-insurgency operations. The AK-47s are easier to carry, but are not accurate enough. The weapons imported from Israel are not only accurate and lightweight, they also have a rate of fire to match the AK-47s. They are ideally suited for the CQB environment when personnel have only a spilt second to react,” an official said.
Fitted with special sights, it doesn’t take long to aim the Israeli guns before firing. Unlike the AK-47s and SLRs, these weapons use 5.56mm ammunition, similar to the INSAS. Platoons no longer have to carry different types of ammunition.
“These are ambidextrous weapons that can be used with both hands. They have integral reflex sights that allows a jawan to aim with both eyes open. They are good for both day and night operations,” the official said.
According to experts in the defence ministry, the Israeli weapons are unlike anything that have been used by Indian troops. These are the only weapons that have the characteristic ‘Bull Pup’ design. This design makes these weapons extremely useful for special forces and troops involved in counter-insurgency the world over.
“Unlike weapons used by Indian forces so far, these guns have their magazines behind the trigger. As a result, the centre of gravity is to the rear and the barrels point upward even when the weapons are not in use. In case of emergency, it is far easier to bring the barrel down and fire the weapons. In other rifles, the barrels have a tendency to point downward,” an Army officer involved in the training of special forces said.